h I am sooooo very sick of politics. So, this installment of Reboot America themed articles ( the first is here) will talk about the character of the people we elect. It is time, past time, to demand that our elected leaders be men and women of character. It is time to differentiate Statesmen from mere politicians. This will be a long read. So, gather your beverages, take a deep breath, and read on please.
In the sixties, I was a kid and we all wanted to be one of three things. We wanted to be President, an Astronaut, or a Marine. I got the best of the three deals. Today, I know kids who still idolize Astronauts and people in all kinds of uniform. I don’t know a kid that wants to be President. That’s pretty sad. I can’t prove it, but I think the stench of political corruption has finally permeated down to the point that even grade schoolers know that “politician” isn’t a word that inspires images of trust and selfless service.
The first thing I would propose is a Constitutional Amendment that mandates integrity and honorable character be demanded of our federally elected officials. I don’t mean something vague like “High Crimes and Misdemeanors” either. I mean an amendment along the lines of “Any elected Member of the United States Government, or Member of an Appointed Federal Judiciary suspected of violations of the current code of ethical conduct will be removed of his or her official duties during the duration of an investigation of said allegation. If said allegation is substantiated, the member shall be removed from office and where applicable referred to appropriate judicial proceedings for prosecution.”
The next thing we must lobby for is the complete revision of the rules used in each house of Congress to define and investigate ethics complaints. Like the Constitution itself, if you get to make the rules, you should at least try to live by them. Currently, the process of identification and investigation takes entirely too long. The Office of Congressional Ethics, for the 2nd Qtr of 2012, conducted 32 preliminary reviews. Of those 32, 10 were sent on to the actual House Ethics Committee for further review. The OCE was a great idea by Pelosi in order to drain the swamp as it were. But it is a ‘civilian’ committee with nothing more than the authority to tell the HEC that they should or should not pursue an investigation. So, what happened to those ten cases sent from OCE to HEC?
The House Ethics Committee has swallowed them up. There is no easy to find information of what or who the allegations pertained to or progress of investigations. The best I could easily find were three press releases on the HEC website. I read one of them and noted that Rep Waters was personally cleared of violating house rules. One of her employees was issued a “Letter of Reproof”. More on that later.
Finally, even in cases of egregious misconduct, House Members are rarely hit with more than a “Sanction”. For all it’s ominous sounds, a sanction is nothing more than a public slap on the wrist. From there it is up to the Justice Department to determine if they wish to pursue a criminal action.
For brevities sake I omitted the Senate. I strongly feel that we need an amendment to remove the self-policing action of either house, the judiciary, or the executive branch. The process needs to be brutally swift, decisive, and draconian on those who violate the peoples special trust and confidence.
Remember Rep. Waters employee who received a “letter of reproof”? I’d say that the wrong person was punished. I’d say that as a Leader, Rep Waters is responsible for everything done or not done in her name. I’d say that her employee is accountable to her, and to the law when required, but that she and she alone should bear the official blame.
To be a Leader, one must strive to be unique in that matters of character do not surface. Each of the uniformed services clearly sets a standard for every leader from the most junior (Corporals, Petty Officers) to the most senior (Generals, Admirals). Amazingly the standard is the same. If we can expect such a high level of performance from our 19 year old Corporals, we damn sure should expect it from our elected officials. Leadership Traits for Congress as well as Leadership Principles for Congress explores the military leadership standard and how it can translate to better elected leaders. I submit that if we are people of integrity we will want to hold our elected leaders as close to these standards as humanly possible regardless of party affiliation. I actually dare you to read the two articles, then do a mental matchup and see how your current Presidential favorite stacks up. If he or she doesn’t measure up; do you have the moral courage to not vote for him or her? Remember, voting in the lesser of two evils is still supporting evil.
The final part of this reboot involves the President of the United States personally. He or She really isn’t the long term leader of the nation. That is Congress. He or She cannot really influence the law. That is the Judiciary. But, He or She has their finger on the button. The POTUS is the person who determines when, where, and how your friends and neighbors die all over the globe. The POTUS determines when, where, and how our enemies and the noncombatants they hide behind die all over the globe. The POTUS has the power to unconditionally pardon mass murderers if he so chooses. Someone with that much immediate power must be held to an even higher standard than those under his command.
I propose another Constitutional Amendment. This time it is for a vote of no confidence and removal from office to be initiated by the States themselves. I envision any state drafting a letter of no-confidence. Then the letter is sent to all the other state legislatures via the senior of the two Senators. Why? Because per the Constitution, the Senate is the voice of the States as opposed to the people.
Once this letter is received, each state legislature and Governor will debate it and either approve, ignore, or reject it. If a supermajority of States approve the letter of no confidence then it is delivered to the Congress stating that the President has been declared unfit for continued service. At that point the Amendment would grant the House of Representatives the option of drafting Articles of Impeachment. If the House declined or ignored the States declaration (silence equaling contempt or consent), then the States themselves would convene its’ own version of the Senate court to try the President with the ultimate penalty being removal from office. It would require a three-fourths majority to convict. And, as in the case of impeachment trials now, would not be subject to judicial review.
There’s a point to the alternate impeachment amendment, or simply revising the relevant parts of Article I, II, and III. It’s purpose would be to ensure that a partisan Congress could not ignore egregious violations from the executive by virtue of numbers in office and political party affiliation.
I would leave you with one last thought. It is often said we get the government we deserve. It is said that the government is a reflection of the people and the times. If this is true; what does it say about us?If there is not a Disqus comment box at the end of this post, click the title and one will appear.
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